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Can you use a joy-con to play on your phone?

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

As we previously wrote, mobile gaming can be uncomfortable if you are not used to playing only with the touch screen. For this reason, there is a sizeable industry of gamepads tailor-made to playing on a phone.

However, you don´t need to buy a special gamepad. You can use the ones you have for your gaming console, it doesn´t matter if it´s from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft. You can even use the Nintendo Switch´s joy-con if you want, or if you don´t have any other alternative. It works with a PC, so why not your phone?

Using a joy-con with an android phone.

Connecting your joy-con with an android phone is easy, and very similar to how you would connect any other controller:

  1. Turn on the Bluetooth on your phone.

  2. On the sides of the joy-con that you slide into the Switch, there is a small button. Press it for a second, and some lights will turn on. This means that the Joy-con has entered pairing mode.

  3. The joy-con should appear among the available Bluetooth devices on your phone. Select it.

  4. The two devices should connect themselves in a few seconds.

  5. Enjoy using your joy-con to control your phone.

Now, the problem with this approach is that each paired joy-con will only count as one controller. Your phone will not join the left and right joy-con to act as one gamepad the same way the Nintendo Switch does.

This means that the joy-con are pretty useless on their own to play anything that isn´t a 2d platformer. Fortnite or Genshing Impact, to name a few, are nigh- unplayable in such a state.

However, there is a third-party solution. You can download the Joy-Con enabler app, which, as the name suggests, lets you pair up both sides of the Joy-con. With the app installed, you can use them to play pretty much any gamepad-compatible game.

The downside is that the app is not actually free, it costs two dollars to be able to link up your controllers. At the same time, you might experience significant latency depending on your Android version.

Using a joy-con with an iPhone

For the time being, you can´t use a joy-con or even a Pro controller with an iPhone. The controllers are simply not compatible with iOS.

However, that will change very soon. the iOS 16 update is slated to have Joy-con and Pro controller support. We still don´t know the specifics of how exactly this will work, but you can expect it to be very similar to how Androids connect with the controller.

That said, Apple does like to work to ensure the compatibility of such peripherals in-house. Meaning that it will be a custom-made job for the Nintendo Switch´s controllers. The iPhone will probably be able to detect both joy-cons without a third-party app and with some improved latency as well.

In the meantime, if you want a gamepad for your iPhone, try to get one of the officially approved "Made of iPhone" controllers.


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